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The Teacher’s Discovery

By Dennis Doty/ April 3, 2016

Series  Ecclesiastes: Life Under the Sun

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  Discipleship

Scripture  Ecclesiastes 7:23-29

Know your heart and recognize the sin in it. God's grace reaches to the depths of our weakness and affords us a way of escape.

Scripture:  Ecclesiastes 7:23-29

Sermon Notes:

  1. The feelings Solomon expresses in Ecclesiastes can make a reader uncomfortable. For example, Christians think they aren’t supposed to feel meaninglessness, vanity, or despair.
  2. But Christians do feel depressed, guilty, confused, hopeless, and overwhelmed at times (e.g. Paul, Elijah).
  3. Life is a roundabout path. We will return to moments of folly, depression, guilt, feeling overwhelmed, etc. We can all relate to the struggles Solomon has.
  4. This book presents a very high view of God. There is a gospel-centered message here.
  5. God has put limitations on our ability and knowledge.
  6. Human thinking and feeling are a reflection of our being made in the image of God.
  7. As we search out the things of God, we become material for Him to shape (Prov. 25:2-4).
  8. The pursuit of science and technology without wisdom can lead to dangerous and destructive intentions (e.g. Nazi Germany).
  9. If you remove Christ from education, the student focuses on his own glorification.
  10. Our minds have great potential for good or evil, and we will be marked by how we use this potential in our life.
  11. Ecclesiastes 7:26 describes an evil woman, who is a reflection of Lady Folly. This woman is trying to ensnare and lead astray. The book of Proverbs tells us how to avoid her (cf. Prov. 5; Ps. 119:9).
  12. Solomon is relating in this chapter his personal experience of being led astray by his own folly and wicked women. Solomon thereby angered God and brought judgment upon his descendants (1 Kings 11:9-13).
  13. Reading Ecclesiastes is like reading Solomon’s personal journal and his heartbreak in being separated from God.
  14. The sinner is taken by the ensnaring woman, but the righteous man escapes her.
  15. There is grace that reaches to the depths of our weakness and affords us a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13).
  16. The church is a means of grace to assist Christians in escaping temptation.
  17. Sin and iniquity reside in us all (Ecc. 7:20). But God is with us in our weakness. He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:6). He is our advocate.
  18. Solomon addresses several areas of life: time, politics, friendship, religion, contentment, etc. But in all of this he has not found the wisdom he has sought.
  19. Solomon was the wisest man (1 Ki. 3:12), but he still chose foolishness.
  20. The Preacher sums up this section by contrasting man’s original created condition and his corruption by the Fall (original sin).
  21. The answer is found in Christ, the ‘one righteous man in a thousand’ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21). We are transformed by His grace.
  22. Know your heart and recognize the sin in it. Apart from God, you will continue in a path of folly, leading to destruction, and you will be held accountable for your sin.
  23. God is holy. He cannot associate with sin. So how does He receive us? Jesus took God’s wrath on sin for us.
  24. When God looks down on us, He sees Christ’s righteousness over us. This is grace.

Application Questions:

  1. Why do even Christians experience feelings of depression, hopelessness, guilt, being overwhelmed, etc.? How do the Scriptures direct us to respond?
  2. How does God prepare us to be shaped for His purposes?
  3. What are the outcomes of education, science and technology that are devoid of Christ?
  4. What are the benefits of confessing your sins to one another in the covenant community?
  5. What was the Teacher’s discovery? (cf. Ecc. 7:29). What theological doctrines are alluded to in this discovery? How does the Gospel provide the answer to this discovery?